The Bean House
Some new seasonal architecture for the garden:
Last year we used bamboo poles to make tripods to support our pole beans. Around the tripods grew our squash and pumpkins, but there wasn't a whole lot of room left for those vines.
So this year we thought we'd try to maximize the space for the vining squashes by sending the beans up and over the gravel path. As you can see in the photo above, the poles are right around the center (or "keyhole") of our C-shaped bed in the swingset quadrant. Each pole has several beans planted in a circle around it, and after they come up, we'll thin it to just three plants per pole. Hopefully the vines will fill in and grow up to form a shady place for the kids to sit in when they are tired of the swingset.
The how-to on this is pretty simple. We used 10 foot sections of 1/2 inch PVC pipe (which we already own as part of our winter greenhouse setup). They are held together at the peak with PVC pipe joiners: one 4-piece one (for the corner pipes), another 4-piece on with only three pipes in it (to keep the "doorway" open), and three more sets of two pipes (joined with angled connectors, which you can see if you look closely at the top of the picture above). Then we lashed it all together with some clothesline and called it good.
So far it's holding up fine in the wind and weather (Kirk sank the poles into the soil pretty far). I really like the rounded, onion-like shape that we ended up with—it strikes me as a very Victorian garden decoration. Or it would, if it wasn't bright white. But that should look better as it gets covered over in green, which we're looking forward to!